Teen stories in dance

Sixteen teenagers will tell their stories of weight issues, unrealistic expectations of parents, stress, mood swings and more through dance.

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta
  • Published 29.03.18
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Calcutta: Sixteen teenagers will tell their stories of weight issues, unrealistic expectations of parents, stress, mood swings and more through dance.

Giving them wings are Scottish choreographer Christine Devaney and Belgian dancer Hendrik Lebon, who have worked with teenagers in Britain, Denmark and Belgium among other places.

The duo have been working with the students after school hours for two weeks to come up with a production that melds theatre, dance, music and art. The students will perform at The Harrington Streets Arts Centre on Friday.

"All teenagers I have worked with feel they are stereotyped by their parents. Handling the expectations of parents is a big issue everywhere. But in the end, every teenager is different and not all of them are depressed or stuck to their phones. In fact, most are keen to experiment and adopt new ideas," said Devaney of performance company Curious Seed, whose dance production Teenage Trilogy premiered in Scotland last year.

The workshop in the city is an offshoot of that production. "I found Indian students very open to new ideas and large-hearted. There is a uniqueness in their moves. I asked a lot of questions that encouraged them to talk. One of them even introduced me to new music that I used in the production," said Devaney, adding that the production is about celebrating a phase in life (teenage) rather than making a statement or doling out advice.

But the participants think differently. "Where do we get so much freedom? We wrote our stories and choreographed our own moves. For a change there was no thought control," said Shailaja Yasmine Das, a Class X student of Modern High School for Girls during a practice session at MACE Hall on Wednesday. "It was tough to tell personal stories but in the end it was liberating."

Five hours of practice every day for two weeks required the schoolchildren to adjust their schedules but they felt they learnt much more in the process.

"Initially we took part in some physical exercises that helped us connect with one another and set us free mentally," said Antara Dasgupta, a Class X student of The Akshar School. Once the ice was broken, sharing body stories was easier.

Participating in discussions, writing personal accounts and expressing emotions through art - the students enjoyed a range of soul-searching activities.

"Depression over body weight, mood swings and sagging confidence came out in our body stories. The best thing was that our stories remained private. We just weaved them in through dance moves," said Aishani Goswami a Class VIII student of St Teresa's Secondary School.

The programme is part of Teenage Times Remix Kolkata, a collaboration between Curious Seed, Scotland, and ThinkArts and supported by British Council. "I hope the teenagers emerge more confident after the workshop," said Ruchira Das of ThinkArts.